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UN chief urges global ceasefire to help fight COVID-1923 March 2020

'The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,' says Antonio Guterres in urging worldwide halt to hostilities

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called Monday for an end to all conflicts worldwide so that the international community can singularly focus on the fight against the novel coronavirus.

"Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all relentlessly," he told reporters during a virtual news conference. "In war-ravaged countries health systems have collapsed, health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted."

"The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. That is why today I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world," he added.

There are nearly 355,000 confirmed coronavirus cases across the globe with the death toll exceeding 15,400, according to a running tally being compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Guterres pleaded with the world's warring parties to "put aside mistrust and animosity, silence the guns, stop the artillery and airstrikes."

"This is crucial to help create corridors for life-saving aid, to open precious windows for diplomacy, to bring hopes to places among the must vulnerable to COVID-19," he said. 

Guterres' special envoys for individual conflicts will now seek to ensure his global appeal is being followed. But if fighting persists, Guterres warned there may be an "absolutely devastating" spreading of the virus.

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